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Dive Deep into Nashville's Music Roots With The Country Music Hall Of Fame


Thanks to the Country Music Hall of Fame for providing tour tickets for us. All thoughts are my own. 

Let's time travel to the 1700s at the height of immigration and the start of the US. Our European, African, and Hispanic ancestors migrated to America in search of a better life and a land of prosperity. As they settled, they brought with them their customs, traditions, and music. 

Country Music, at its core roots, is expanded from the musical selections integrated from the melting pot of our ancestors: folk music, African instruments, and Spanish influences all make up of what we now know as country music. The development from folk to hillbilly, to Appalachia bluegrass, to country, to outlaw country, to modern pop country is all influenced and developed from parts of our past roots. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame isn't just for country music fans, although the core of this museum portrays country music. Learn about the roots of music, it's foundations, and how it developed throughout the centuries through self-guided tours that probably take between an hour and half to two hours to complete. There are several on-property and off-property exhibits that will help your family learn about music in general, and of course the particulars of Country Music, which is what Nashville is well known for.

First, take an elevator up to the second floor and make your way through the beginnings of Country Music. As you venture back to the first floor, you learn about the influence of rock on music, and how it continues to develop into what we have today.

The lower lobby, where you purchase tickets, is also a nice casual place to rest in some AC, take a break with a snack, or get out of the rain as well. No food or drinks, except sealable water bottles, are allowed within the galleries, as well as no video recording too. 

I loved seeing the exhibits that show off the early years of folk music, eventually becoming country music in the 1920s & 30s. Seeing names like Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and the likes of these great stars help us to understand how country music developed and why it became such the big name it is today. Fast-forward through exhibits that highlight Outlaw Country (a term I didn't know existed until I went through the museum), one can see how modern rock and country influences infiltrated the world. Don't forget the displays of Patty Loveless, Eric Church, and today's modern stars. 

Be sure to visit the Taylor Swift display if you are a Swiftie fan (apparently my 13 yr old niece is firmly NOT a Swiftie) and check out the greats in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Learn how people are inducted into the hall of fame and who the first ones were! There's also a sign that shows who the newbies are as well.

If you have young children with you, the museum offers a myriad of activities to help your youngster become engaged and learn a little bit of something while having fun. There's a Young Explorer Kit available but also lots of youth and family programs for your school breaks and museum adventures through the Taylor Swift Education Center. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame is the only place where you can purchase tickets to visit the RCA studio and take a tour of how records are created and made. We didn't get to do this tour, but I've been told it's a must if you are a music lover.

Some of my favorite highlights from the Country Music Hall of Fame are:

  • learning about the suits that early Country Music Stars wore. Made by a tailor named Nudie Cohn, these fashionable suits are decked out in rhinestones, studs, fringe, and other outrageous designs and patterns. Once you wore a Nudie suit on stage, you knew you made the big time! 
  • Seeing Nudie's customized car, complete with steer horns. Glance over, and you also see Elvis's Gold Cadillac as well!

  • Learning about Outlaw country and how modern country takes its roots from rock n roll influences, protests, and all the things that make up the 60s & 70s. 
  • Seeing the Hall of Fame was an experience I won't forget. The names, the legends, the influences of the plates on the wall is very emotionally, regardless of whether you like country music or not. Just thinking about all the work, the labor, and the love that those musicians put into their craft made me want to be the best I can be in my own. 
  • Reminiscing about country in the late 80s & 90s, from my own childhood. Revisiting names like Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, Martina McBride, and seeing what they overcome was amazing. 

I highly recommend visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, regardless if you actually like the music or not, you will definitely learn something about Nashville, learn something about music, and begin to understand how this culture is so prominent in the south today. 

If you want even more, check out the Country Music Hall of Fame website for various online exhibits to walk you through the shoes of the greats like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Nashville's music continues to shape, form, and develop even today as there are always artists seeking to improve and join the ranks of the greats. Whether they make it remains to be seen, but they are living into the call and lure that music brings. 

Tips: The restrooms are located at the end of each floor. One at the beginning, and one at the end. It is hard to navigate the crowds to get to the restroom if you are on the opposite end, so have a plan meeting up with your party in case you get separated. 

The exhibits on each floor follow a pattern, but they aren't in any particular order. If you like chronological order it's best to do one side, then go through the other, but its not necesarily needed as each exhibit is stand alone. 

It's a lot of walking, but also there are a lot of videos going on. I recommend stopping and resting, seeing bits of the offered videos. They also give you further insight into the exhibits, and provide a touch a bit more history.

Be sure to check out the musical selections and bands, especially in the Western Edge exhibit. It's fun to learn how rock based Los Angeles bands were influenced by Country and vice versa! 

Hollywood has the stars, and the Country Music Hall of Fame has stones across the street. Go check them out! 

Want to visit?

The Country Music Hall of Fame is located at 222 John Lewis Way, S. Nashville. Purchase tickets (5 and under are free but still need a ticket) to the self-guided tour, studio B, or even Hatch Show Print. 

For those with mobility needs, find the ramp access at the corner of Demonbreun & 222 John Lewis Way. 

The Country Music Hall of Fame regularly changes exhibits and provides extra programming, so be sure to follow them on their socials: Facebook & Instagram

Do you like visiting museums on vacation?

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